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Ambulatory!

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News flash: I just walked down the street and back! Super weak and shaky, hanging on my sweetie’s arm, but I did it and it wasn’t so bad. This is improvement!

I’m A (Slightly Hobbled) SuperJane!

me and Kerina, SJR social media star!
me and Kerina, SJR social media star!

A few months ago, I was thrilled and honored to be nominated as a SuperJane, aka an ambassador for See Jane Run. This was such a fantastic thing for me, because I have loved and adored SJR ever since I ran in my second 5k back in 2009. There’s nothing more joyous and celebratory than getting a champagne flute and chocolate at the finish line of a race! (I also love SJR for awarding medals for a 5k race – THAT is so awesome and validating)

Me and Pubsgal, See Jane Run 2009
Me and Pubsgal, See Jane Run 2009

I was so excited to do my first SJR Half Marathon coming up this Saturday. But ever since March, my hip has been getting more and more zingy/painful. I think that I may be finally getting down to the bottom of what is causing this pain (should have final news by next week), but it has meant a serious curtailment of my training. This has been really disappointing.

I have finally had to come to grips with the fact that I’m either going to be doing the See Jane Run 5k verrry slowly this weekend (walk/jog), or I’m going to be a cheerleader. Which is prety cool in and of itself. There’s nothing like cheering on other runners, especially beginning runners. My second See Jane Run, last year, was also really special because I was able to run with my friend Mary, who was doing her very first race. This race is one of the friendliest, well organized and encouraging races for women of all abilities, speeds and sizes. Which is why I love them.

Me and Mary (her first race!), See Jane Run 2012

For the past few weeks I’ve been feeling kind of glum about not being able to do the half marathon like I had planned. I then spent a fair amount of time feeling like SJR had made a complete mistake in asking me to be, of all things, a “Super Jane.” But then I took a look at their manifesto and it brought a lump to my throat and smile to my face.

manifesto

A bunch of members from my Weight Watchers meeting have gotten all excited about participating in the race this weekend. They’ve designed a group T-shirt and are all full of enthusiasm. For most of them, it is their first race. I am so happy for them and will be so thrilled to be at this event with them. It’s okay that I’m not running at my best pace. It’s okay that I’m not going to do the half marathon (this time). Some of them will be walking. I will  hang with them and have a rockin’ good time. This is what being a Jane is all about.

It will be a beautiful day. Bring on the bubbly and chocolate!

 

Improv Workouts from Beach to Forest

I’ve been traveling for the past couple of weeks. Working out has been severely curtailed, although I’ve tried to keep up with the minimum of “twenty minutes of something- anything!” as much as possible. I feel my body sort of weakening.

I got on a plane just a few days after finishing the Oakland half. My hip was already feeling pretty wonky. But then sitting on a plane for 6+ hours, then sitting in a car for another day, then a bunch of writing – and more sitting – it’s been orthopedically tough. I have only really had one run since I left California on March 28th- a shivery cold run in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Brrrrr. But pretty.
Brrrrr. But pretty.

Since then, a few hikes and many beach walks. The first beach walks on soft sand were kind of excruciatingly painful for that hip.

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I tried to get an appointment with the local physical therapist but that didn’t work out. I ended up going to a sports store, one of the few little shops open during the winter season. Near the front door, a wire basket with a sign “Used Softballs $1.” That was pretty much one of the best one-dollar investments I ever made. I brought that baby home and rolled the heck out of my hip. OWIIIIEEEE. But good owie. Necessary owie. The ball rolling has made a huge difference. After the softball sessions, the beach walks ended up being a lot less painful.

Insert under hip, and ROLL. Ow! Yay!
Insert under hip, and ROLL. Ow! Yay!

This week I’ve made a complete change of scene – back to California. I had one day at home and I was so glad to get back onto my “home” trail a few blocks from my house. Ahhhh.

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Then on Thursday, I relocated to a friend’s remote cabin/barn/cathedral in the woods. Kind of amazing. We are miles from anywhere. The forest here is stunningly peaceful, beautiful. Yesterday I took a hike and explored around. Today I took another one. I was feeling like, this is nice, but it’s just not ENOUGH. I found a little clearing and did a bunch of 100-set invisible jumpropes on the soft pine needle floor. It was really cushy and comfortable. I worked up a tiny little sweat. I hike along a deserted logging road. Did I mention there is nobody around here for miles and miles? I took off my shirt. Because of that. The sun felt so nice.

Little trees growing in the road
Little trees growing in the road

I am not normally someone who walks around in a sports bra. Yeah, you can do that if you are young and buff and such, but not if you are an over-50 somewhat mushy, haven’t-done-weights-in-too-long kinda gal. I poked at my upper arms as I walked. This did not make me happy. I picked up some thick branches that were almost logs. Maybe 5-10 lbs or so. I lifted and pressed as I walked. That felt good. I put it down and did some more invisible jumpropes. I did some hill repeats, carrying the log thing. I was having fun jumping and hauling logs around in the woods in my sports bra. Hahaha.

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I got back to the cabin (after getting just semi-lost and bushwacking my way back) and felt better about my level of activity today. It was fun, improvising it up out there in the forest.

I’m looking forward to getting back home next week. To doing some night swimming at the pool with my buddy Lily. To getting back to seeing my trainer now and and again.  To having some fun at a Nia class.To working my way back up to another half marathon in June.

Traveling is good. It brings you out of yourself and the dailiness of it all, to seeing things in a new way. I’m grateful for my forest workout today, for feeling free under the trees and the sun.

Day 16 #NHBPM What’s Unusual About this Picture?

Day 16 – Friday, Nov. 16

Create a comic strip about your health / life / community OR
Use a picture or video to inspire a post

I know, I know, I’m two days behind again. Weekends can be tough. So this is Friday’s post coming to you on Sunday. I have to say I am getting a little bit weary of the blog posts every day. But I am hanging in there and today will be my catchup day.

This picture is from today’s walk with Mr. McBody. We went up to the beautiful woods near our home. This picture is unusual because we are very rarely up there together. Usually he is riding his bike and I am running. I don’t like bike (trail) riding up there much.  It’s too bumpy and there are too many obstacles (ie people and animals and other bikes) for me. He doesn’t run anymore. Back in the day, when we were younger, he was the serious runner and I was the couch potato. Somehow in the past few years it seems that now I am the runner and he does… other stuff.

Today he suggested that we take a walk up there together. It was so nice. Afterward we went down to the Farmers Market together. We ordered our Thanksgiving turkey and had some lunch and walked around our little neighborhood. Normally that is something I also do alone or with Juniorette or sometimes Junior. So that was another nice thing.

Later this afternoon we are going to the movies. (Lincoln) All of this is not at all our norm. I am used to rushing here and there, meeting up with my various peoples. He spends a lot of time hanging out and being with Mama McBody (who is MY mom, not his).  Today she was off at church and we had the nice opportunity to spend an unrushed Sunday together. A little sad that this was remarkable. But it was awfully nice.

I think it’s healthy to slow down and take a walk sometime instead of a run or a challenging bike ride. And nice to do it with someone you love.

Day 9 #NHBPM: Walking Again

Today’s blog post was supposed to be either about a “care package” which I didn’t quite understand, OR writing in detail about “a memory.”

I have only about ten minutes to write so…. ummm…. a memory. I’m going to write about something that happened today, which triggered a memory for me.

Today in my work as a physical therapist I worked with a woman I’ve been seeing since July.  She has a bunch of medical problems which led to her not being able to walk for over a year.  When I started with her in July I asked her her goal and she said “to walk again.” She wasn’t really even able to get out of bed without a lot of help. Well, we worked at it. And worked and worked and worked. And there were a ton of setbacks. For a long time it was a major thing to be able to stand for 5 seconds (and I was counting fast). But TODAY – TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! she walked with a walker for about 40 steps across her kitchen. We were both elated. And it felt like meeting someone at the end of a 26.2 mile marathon. It reminded me of why I do this work.

My dad was one of those people who, after a spinal cord injury, seemed to not ever be able to walk again. But that was all he wanted. He worked his ASS off, at the age of 81.  He was the best physical therapy patient on the planet. I was across the country from him so I never really worked with him in that capacity. But after working like a MULE for months and months and months, he miraculously and amazingly was able to walk with a walker for up to about a hundred feet. It meant so much to him. And to me.

These things humble me and remind me to be grateful. They also show me how determined people can be to do what seems impossible, and which maybe hardly anyone believes can be done.

(I took that picture in my patient’s kitchen today. Another huge accomplishment was that I was able to step away to take it and she could stand there without anybody holding on to her. In physical therapy language we call that “standby assist.” SUCH A BIG DEAL!)

So that made my day. And brought back a memory that meant a lot.

Is it Possible to Stay Healthy While Traveling?

beautiful Prospect Park where I did a 5.3 mile run

I returned last night from an intense four and a half day trip to New York. It really made me think a lot about the challenge of staying healthy while traveling. I’d say, on balance, I’d give myself a B+ or maybe even a C- during this trip. Overall, it was kind of like a game of Fortunately/Unfortunately.

Unfortunately, I spent two and a half days sitting on my butt at a conference. Fortunately, it was a fantastic conference. And also fortunately, it was in New York City so it involved quite a bit of walking, getting there and then getting around afterward.

my friends changing from conference shoes to walking-to-dinner shoes

Unfortunately, I was crossing from West to East coast, and that always wreaks complete havoc on my biorhythms.  It is TOUGH to wake up the first few days I am back East. Fortunately, I really think that my Sleep Time app helped me! I woke up much more bright eyed and bushy tailed than I can ever remember doing when going East.

It all started with taking the 5am train to the airport.

Unfortunately, I indulged in a little more alcohol than I am used to. I think the fact that I wasn’t driving at all (and hanging out with friends I rarely see, and feeling very… umm.. festive) may have contributed to this.

cocktails at my Lady Writers’ gathering

Fortunately, I was able to make some fairly decent food choices. There was a place around the corner from where I was staying that featured a wonderful breakfast of yogurt, fruit and granola. I had this exact same breakfast more than once.

Thank you Dizzy’s for the yummy Power Breakfast!

Fortunately, I was able to continue my Yoga-A-Day Pose. Unfortunately, I only did it one day. Here I am bridging in my friend’s kitchen.

So unfortunately, there were a lot of things that were less than ideal while I was traveling. But fortunately, I kept track of what I was doing. And the less-than-active days spurred me to take my last full day and do a really, really long (and beautiful) run. Which I really needed.

185% before noon

On balance, it wasn’t stellar but it wasn’t terrible. I did my best. Now I’m home but the next two weekends will involve MORE travel. Fortunately, my next trip is a short one in the same time zone (yay) AND it includes a Fun Run (for Juniorette’s Family Weekend/Homecoming at her college) which I have signed up for. It’s good when you can incorporate activity into your schedule like that. The next trip is longer, and also on the East coast (BLERGH long plane trip! Time change!!) but the good thing is that it will have virtually no mandatory events, so I can include as much exercise and napping as I want/need. So it might even be like a mini vacation.

It’s a work in progress, learning to incorporate healthy choices into travel. I love to travel, and happen to like to do things that aren’t always local, and I love a lot of people who happen to live far away. So I’ve got to figure out ways to make it work.

How do you stay healthy when you’re traveling, especially when it involves a lot of meeting/sitting?

 

Please Pass the Peas

The fake blue frozen peas, that is. I’ve been pretty much living with this thing attached to my foot since Sunday, and laying low. By complete coincidence I haven’t had to go in to work much this week and this has proved a good thing. A three hour stint on my feet at Weight Watchers on Wednesday had me literally hopping around on one foot from the shooting pains.

I went to the doctor yesterday. Diagnosis: bruised peroneal nerve and tendonitis on BOTH sides of my left ankle now. Aggravated by shoes, which hit the tendons on each side, and walking. Greeeat. But I kind of expected this, or something like it, and I’m glad it’s nothing more serious, like a stress fracture or something. I just have to stay off it, which is not so hard, considering it hurts like the devil to stay ON it.

I did get a little exercise in this week, though. On Tuesday Lily and I were all bewildered that we did not have our usual swim workout, so we went to the pool anyway even though it was freezing as heck, and we swam a nice relaxing 300 and then sat in the hot tub and recapped our respective triathlon experiences. She had had no idea what had happened with me, and vice versa. She rocked her race and I’m so proud of her. Already we are scheming for our next tri.

This morning we had coffee with one of our teammates Elisa, plus our mentor Annika, and we talked about signing up for the Maui Triathlon in June. I am excited about this. I am realizing how very much I want a ‘do-over’ of my triathlon. I feel like I learned so much and am ready to apply it to the next experience.

Meanwhile, my new Hike/Snowshoe team is doing their very first workout tomorrow, but alas I won’t be joining them because 1) I have a conference all weekend and 2) I can’t really walk. I hope I will be good to go by the following weekend! Plus, I need to get a little running in here and there so I can work up to the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Disneyland in January. So many events! But it’s all good.

It’s been good to rest this week, but I also admit to having a touch of that post-triathlon letdown. I miss my team! I miss my workouts, now that it’s all over. But soon enough I will have a new team to get to know, and new workouts. In the meantime, it’s cold peas on the ankle.

 

Visualizing Success

I’ve been preparing for Sunday’s Olympic-distance triathlon in Marin County since July. It has taken so much blood, sweat and tears (literally) it’s incredible. This week is the time for the mental and emotional preparation. My awesome sports psychologist, Michelle Cleere, gave me the assignment to write about my upcoming triathlon exactly the way I want it to happen. This is it. I would love it if you would read this and then imagine it happening just like this for me on Sunday. It’s my best case scenario, my dream event. Thank you ALL for your incredible support and encouragement in this undertaking! Much love and gratitude — Susan
——–
On my knees. Arranging items in a pile on the floor, some of which I’d never heard of three months ago. A box of silicon earplugs nestled like soft eggs. Swim booties. Purple spandex. My Team in Training wetsuit with its oddly comforting smell of rubber and salt. I’m checking things off on the list our coach sent us, building a little altar to improbability and miracles.  I love the ritual of lining everything up the night before, touching each object, asking each one to do its job, to keep me safe, keep me healthy, warm, dry, hydrated, nourished. Vanilla GU and a lavender towel.
I set my alarm and sleep with dreams of floating effortlessly, rolling over hills up and down and taking sure steps.
4:30am. The alarm goes off and I don’t want to hit Snooze. I’m excited to get up in the dark. Today is the day. Today is the day I become a triathlete.  For me, believing that I can be a triathlete is like believing I will be an astronaut, a tightrope walker, a brain surgeon. A fantasy of the nth degree. But today I’m going to put on the costume and the identity.
First layer: the purple tri shorts (padded for biking, quick-dry for swimming) and top. I’m so proud to be part of this team.  Then thick sweat pants, heavy socks, a sweatshirt. I need to keep warm. Warm warm warm to carry me into the ocean. Is it raining already? Maybe. It’s okay. It’s just water.
Breakfast.  Coffee, water, whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter. Maybe some cut up apple. Boil some eggs to take in the car. Fill the water bottles, one with Gatorade and one with water.
Transfer the gear pile into my gym bag. Check everything twice. John is out in the garage, oiling and cleaning the bike chain, filling the tires. He’s a great bike support. Hard to believe that three months ago I was terrified to get on a bike of any kind, that I couldn’t turn, stop, or start without falling over. I still have scars on my legs from all the falls I took.
my trusty bike tech
5:30. Time to pick up Lily. My buddy, my angel, my constant companion since the day we sat next to each other for the first time at Kick-Off in July. She has pushed me, nudged me, encouraged me and made me believe that I can do this. I will so miss our nighttime swims, with her reading the wet workout sheet from the light of the pool. Nobody in the pool but us crazies, and then rewarding ourselves with a rest in the hot tub after.
We drive through the dark morning, no traffic, over the San Rafael bridge, over the very water we will be swimming in. It’s quiet. We’re contemplating the hugeness of what we’re about to do.
By the time we get to the transition area and our reserved parking spot, our coach Haakon is already there. He helps us find good spots right next to each other and gives us some encouraging tips before saying his mantra, “Let’s do the damn thing!”
I drink hot tea mixed with electrolyte powder to get warm and stay warm. Also to fill up my bladder so I can warm up my wetsuit and my body with some nice warm pee later on. (didn’t know that trick, did you?) I’m wearing my daughter’s Oakland Strokes fake fur parka and thinking of her encouraging “Go Mama!” vibes from Peru.
Then it’s wetsuit time. I put the Bodyglide on my ankles, wrists, neck, armpits, and then stretch the thick skin over my body. I remember the first time we got these – it was an Olympic event just trying to wiggle into it. I thank the wetsuit for keeping me warm and buoyant in the water. I love this thing.
It’s time to go down to the water! There’s a bagpipe player leading us all down. The sound of the music gives me goosebumps. My heart is pounding out of my chest. It’s still pretty dark but the light is breaking over the water. We walk over the rocky beach on a special carpet and WOW it’s cold! But it’s okay. I walk in up to my knees, then calves, then thighs then I just better dive in and get the shock over with. YOW! Yeah! It’s refreshing! It’s super refreshing! All my teammates are around me. We’re laughing and shrieking from the cold, letting the water into our suits from our necks. I know people are peeing around me. It makes me laugh.
There’s about 15 minutes from the time we get in the water until our special TNT wave begins. I use the time to float around, to realllllly get used to the water, to take a few warmup strokes. Breathe. I think about my special breathing mantra: “gentle” on the exhale into the water, “kind” on the inhale. Gentle-kind-gentle-kind. I look out at my first landmark, the pier. No fisherman today, no line to get tangled in. The giant orange buoys are bobbing around gently and easy to see. I’m just going to swim swim swim like I did at Keller Beach.
The horn goes off and it’s a churning of arms and legs as everyone takes off. I stay toward the back and the side, away from all the limbs. I’m not in a hurry. I’m just going to take it one stroke at a time. With every breath, I roll almost all the way onto my back and take a nice full breath. I blow bubbles down into the water. Gen-tle. I remember to look up every few strokes and I see the pier getting closer and closer. Then I’m around it and looking for the first buoy. I see the paddleboarders, the kayaks and other support. They’re cheering us on. I get to the first buoy and I’m feeling good. I see some of my other teammates around me. I’m not alone. Swim swim swim. With every stroke the air gets brighter and brighter, the sun coming up. I get to the 2nd buoy. One more and then land. I just look at one at a time. I sing a little bit into the water.
It’s hard not to get too excited when I see people running out of the water. I give it an extra kick and feel my hands touching ground. I scramble out of the water and feel for my wetsuit leash, unzipping it I wobble to the transition spot. Wow my legs feel funny! And the air is cold. Is it raining?  No matter, I’m gonna get warmed up soon.
I get to my transition spot. I take a big swig of Gatorade, suck down some GU and peel off the wetsuit. It’s like a giant, wiggly sealskin. BRR it’s cold! I trade my swim cap for bike helmet, my goggles for glasses, and try to dry off as quick as I can. I pull on my socks and bike shoes, take one more drink and pull the bike from the rack.
The first hill out of the parking lot is STEEP but I’ve done it a bunch of times before. I’m still pumped up from the swim. First gear, here we go, just pedal, pedal, pedal… Whoo! Got to the top and have a little coasting before the next long hill up the road. I’m glad I’ve done this route before, glad that the hills and turns are familiar to me now. Just… get .. up… this hill, then around the corner and wheeeeee. I let my heart slow down some, let myself enjoy the downhill through the trees around the part with the beautiful view of the water in which I just swam! It’s pretty soon and I get to the turnaround at the campground. Back past the beach entrance (more hills, but they feel fine) and there are so many people here! I love that there are no cars. People are clanging cowbells and yelling out. It’s kind of fun. I see some of my friends. WOW!
Get to the turnaround and head back out for loop number two. I’m feeling strong now. I’m getting warmer after being chilled in the water and the sun is stronger and warmer. All the familiar turns. I see my teammates passing me on the other side and it makes me so happy to call out to them. What we have all gone through together since July – this is amazing.
Okay, final bike loop. My butt is starting to get kind of sore. The course is getting a little bit TOO familiar. But the crowd is getting bigger as we get closer and closer to finishing. Every time I go past the park entrance there are more and more people there. It’s like a big party.
Finally, down the parking lot hill back to the transition. My legs are definitely talking to me (“Are we done yet?”) – not quite.  I hang up the bike, take off my helmet and put on my running hat and running shoes. They feel nice and soft after those bike shoes! Throw back some more Gatorade, a handful of salty pretzels (my power snack) and it’s time for the run part.
Six miles. Okay. I still have this nagging tendonitis in my foot so I’m determined to go as fast as I can without hurting myself. Which at this point means a steady walk. Around the beach area, up the darn hill AGAIN and this time turning left to the trail along the water. It’s beautiful! It’s pretty! Instead of the 1:5 walk/run ratio I was doing during training, it’s now more of a 5:1 walk run but that’s okay. It’s a beautiful day. My clothes are dry, I’m feeling good. I need to use the bathroom and voila! There’s a portOpotty on the corner. Perfect.
Out to the turnaround and back. One final loop! I’ve almost finished an Olympic triathlon! Damn! I’m seeing my teammates fly by. I get so excited to see them. I’m passing my friends and some of them jump up and walk with me. This is so awesome. Final downhill back to the transition area – yeah, Haakon warned us it would be kind of steep. I take my time till I hit the grass and then I can’t help it, I’m running just this last part through the FINISH. FINISH! There’s coach Haakon with my medal.
this weekend it won't be a paper medal!
Where’s the Kleenex? I’m an Olympic triathlete.

The Twitter Fitness Web

Every once in a while, I think I have GOT to write a book called “The Twitter Diet” although I think there already is such a thing. But sometimes I am just overwhelmed with the incredibly community and power that is the Fitbloggin’/FitTwitter world. Just last week I blogged about needing more accountability and consistency in my fitness life.

My buddy Kris responded, “Me too!” and just like that, a little thread of accountability was spun between us. And every day we check in on each other. We had an energetic holiday weekend and cheered each other on with all kind of high fives, but then…. we went back to work today. Both of us were feeling a certain degree of stress and “how are we going to do this?” When I got home from work it was hot and I was tired. And I needed to make dinner and and and…..

The pile of excuses.

Then Kris Tweeted, “8pm. Twenty minutes of ANYthing.” And there it was. My accountability. She lives over 200 miles away from me and yet she is my exercise buddy. Which I already established that I really NEED. So I hemmed and hawed after dinner “I’m really full!” but then it was 7:49 and 7:55 and I said, “I’m putting on my shoes.” She wrote, “No fancy exercise clothes, just regular shorts.” Which was what I was wearing, too. I told Mr. McBody I was taking a walk. He had a look of consternation on his face. He worries about mountain lions.

When I got up to the park it was half full of cars (which is a lot for 8pm!). Lots of people and dogs had been waiting for it to cool down. I headed up the trail carrying a big stick anyway, and I whistled loudly and out of tune to my iPod.

I had a great walk. I went 1.75 miles in 35 minutes, which was more than the “twenty minutes of anything” I was hoping to accopmplish. I even jogged a tiny bit and worked up some sheen.

While I was out on my walk, I saw that Deb had also joined us from her own location. Three friends walking together simultaneously, many miles apart! Kris sent a photo of the view from her hill.

Pretty, huh?

This, my friends, is the best of what technology has to offer. It shrinks worlds and allows connection, not just between people glued to their computer screens, but out in the world, on the trail, getting healthy together/apart. I know tonight that if it were not for my friend 200 miles away, I would NOT have put on those shoes and gone into the woods. There were just too many reasons NOT to. But I did it and feel so grateful and glad.

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